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Social Change and Social Policy: Results from a Survey of Public Opinion

  • Peter Saunders
  • Cathy Thomson
  • Ceri Evans
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    Social policy is having to adapt to changes in the Australian economy and in Australian society more generally. The role of the state is receding and expectations of what it can achieve are being lowered at a time when the economy is generating increased material prosperity combined with growing inequalities and heightened insecurity. Against this background, there is a need to understand how the nature of public opinion is changing so that the degree of support for new (or existing) public programs can be ascertained. The federal government has foreshadowed social policy as its main priority over the next few years and is shaping the parameters of a new welfare state built upon the principles of self-reliance, incentives, affordability and mutual obligation. Yet rather little is known about how widely these principles are shared within the community, and how public opinion has changed in response to broader economic and social change. Against this background, a survey of a representative sample of the adult population was conducted in the middle of 1999 in order to understand the nature of public opinion on economic and social change. This paper - the first in a series - describes how the survey was conducted and reports some of its initial findings. It describes the main characteristics of the respondents and perceptions of changes in living standards, attitudes to economic and social change and concerns about their economic security. The results provide an insight into the diverse ways in which Australians are coping with forces that are generating benefits and uncertainties for many people.

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    Paper provided by University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre in its series Discussion Papers with number 00106.

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    Length: 39 pages
    Date of creation: May 2000
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wop:sprcdp:00106
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    Web page: http://www.sprc.unsw.edu.au/dp/
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    1. Peter Whiteford, 1988. "Taxation and Social Security: An Overview," Discussion Papers 003, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    2. Smeeding, Timothy M, et al, 1993. "Poverty, Inequality, and Family Living Standards Impacts across Seven Nations: The Effect of Noncash Subsidies for Health, Education and Housing," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(3), pages 229-56, September.
    3. Peter Saunders & Garry Hobbes, 1988. "Income Inequality in Australia in an International Comparative Perspective," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 21(3), pages 25-34.
    4. Gerry Redmond, 1998. "Incomes, Incentives and the Growth of Means Testing in Hungary," Discussion Papers 0087, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    5. Peter Saunders & Peter Whiteford, 1990. "Compensating Low Income Groups for Indirect Tax Reform," Discussion Papers 0021, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    6. Peter Saunders & Johan Fritzell, 1995. "Wage and Income Inequality in Two Welfare States: Australia and Sweden," Discussion Papers 0060, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    7. Saunders, Peter & Stott, Helen & Hobbes, Garry, 1991. "Income Inequality in Australia and New Zealand: International Comparisons and Recent Trends," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(1), pages 63-79, March.
    8. Bruce Bradbury, 1989. "The 'Family Package' and the Cost of Children," Discussion Papers 0010, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    9. Bruce Bradbury, 1993. "Unemployment And Income Support: Challenges For The Years Ahead," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 12(2), pages 14-31, 06.
    10. Bruce Bradbury, 1988. "Family Size Equivalence Scales and Survey Evaluation of Income and Well-Being," Discussion Papers 005, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    11. Peter Saunders & Michael Fine, 1992. "The Mixed Economy of Support for the Aged in Australia: Lessons for Privatisation," Discussion Papers 0036, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    12. Peter Whiteford, 1995. "The Use of Replacement Rates in International Comparisons of Benefit Systems," Discussion Papers 0054, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    13. Peter Saunders & Bruce Bradbury, 1989. "Some Australian Evidence on the Consensual Approach to Poverty Measurement," Discussion Papers 0014, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    14. Peter Whiteford, 1992. "Are Immigrants Over-represented in the Australian Social Security System?," Discussion Papers 0031, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    15. Russell Ross, 1988. "The Labour Market Position of Aboriginal People in Non-Metropolitan New South Wales," Discussion Papers 001, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
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